Today is my dad's birthday. As I've written before I love birthdays- love a reason to celebrate someone's life- and my dad's life is one I celebrate most enthusiastically.
As anyone raised by loving parents would say, I owe so much of who I am and how I've been blessed to my dad. Growing up he was very involved in how I was raised-- he had high expectations for our academic performance, behavior, and character. Looking back on this as an adult, I see how much I benefitted from his guidance. He instilled in me a sense of discipline, a drive to be successful, my commitment to family...the qualities that I believe are at the cornerstone of my identity.
People who meet my dad immediately take to him. He's outgoing and effervescent, genuinely interested to get to know others and make them laugh. After meeting him most people say to me, later, "I love your dad." One of my favorite things to do is to sit back and watch my dad take over a room, watch him captivate an entire group with one of his anecdotes or ridiculous stories. It's a sense of pride I'm feeling, but mostly I'm just feeling unbelievably lucky to be the daughter of such a great man.
Within our family he is clearly the patriarch and leader. His grandchildren are completely enamored by him, adoring in his love and attention. I have clear memories of my nephew Sean, having just turned two, enthusiastically calling out "Pop!" as my dad walked me down the aisle at my wedding. My little nieces and nephews hang on his legs, light up when he smiles at them, love to play along with his giddiness. My older nieces and nephews revere him in a more mature way, learning how valuable his advice is, swelling with his acknowledgement of their achievements and beginning to sense his motivation for them to succeed. He's an amazing grandfather, and I cannot wait for my children to be blessed to have Pop in their lives.
My siblings and I likely cannot begin to characterize how much he's done for us. My sisters-in-law and Kegan do not view him as a father-in-law but truly as simply a father. My three brothers are all amazing men and wonderful dads themselves, and I know it's because they learned from the best. My sister and I both regularly rely on my father for advice-- he takes phone calls at any hour of the day to talk to us, and for years has been the shoulder we've leaned on. In light of losing our mother, my father has had to take on a more significant parenting role, and I know she's comforted knowing her babies are still under his care. I'm the baby of the family at 28, and my father is still my dad, as he is still to my siblings. He's still raising me, still taking care of me, still encouraging me to be the best version of myself.
As anyone raised by a loving father would say, one cannot truly elucidate the ways in which their father has influenced them, cannot truly capture the wholeness of their gratitude for who he is and how he's raised them. I've written it out, but this does not compare to how it feels. It's even difficult to find the way to close these sentiments, as I feel instead that I could go on and on about how grateful I am for my dad. Instead I'll say this: I am thankful, every minute of every day, to be his daughter...and there aren't enough minutes in the day for that.